How to Cook Popcorn in a Microwave in a Paper Bag — Like an Airpop, No Oil!

The quick and simple way to make popcorn in the microwave, using no more than popcorn kernels, a paper sack and NO oil. The family-size batch uses a big paper grocery bag, while a personal 'snack attack' batch uses the small 'brown bag' sacks we use to pack lunches. Weight Watchers? This is how to airpop popcorn right in the microwave — no oil!

How to Cook Popcorn in a Microwave In a Paper Bag - Like an Airpop, No Oil!

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” That’s the famous line from the 1975 movie “Network”. No one should. No more. Just think.

Would you pay two to three times the price you needed to? Would you pay $300 for something you might have bought for $200 or even $100? What if a gas station charged $1.21 for a gallon of gas (those were the days, eh?) one week and $2.73 the next, wouldn’t you think, you know, that something was a little fishy?

You’d feel schnookered, right? Rooked? Cheated? Swindled? Deceived? Defrauded? And yes, there are starker, less tasteful ways to say this.

Welcome to the world of popcorn, the lively little kernels ubiquitous at movie theaters and basketball games and for lots of us, especially dieters, a healthy snack.

My favorite grocery allots 8% of its popcorn shelfspace to inexpensive bags of popcorn, 92% of its shelfspace to far more expensive packages of microwave popcorn. (See photo below.) The processed popcorn costs more, a lot more, 150 percent to 200 percent to 300 percent more.

I don't really blame the grocery or even the popcorn sellers. I blame us. We've bought into the notion that "microwave popcorn" takes special popcorn and special packaging and special equipment just because it's there.

So how easy is it to pop popcorn in the microwave?

Here's what you don't need: You don't need a popcorn popper or even an air-pop popper that costs money and space. You don't need packaged popcorn.

Here's all you do need: A popcorn snack attack (that's important). A grocery sack. A few popcorn kernels. Zappo-presto, You've Got Popcorn.

So now when the checker asks, "Paper or plastic?" I answer, "One paper bag, please." Or when I want just a handful or two of popcorn, I use a small paper sack, the kind we use to "brown bag" our lunch sandwiches to work. An entire package of brown bags? It cost $1.

And I make popcorn in the microwave in a paper bag, just kernels and a bag. No chemicals, no preservatives, no salt, no trans fats.

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore. Nobody should.

HOW TO COOK POPCORN in the MICROWAVE in a PAPER BAG

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
  • Popcorn
  • Salt, butter and seasonings, at your pleasure

POPCORN for the FAMILY Put 1/2 cup popcorn kernels into a large paper grocery bag. Fold over tightly once or twice. Cook on high in the microwave until the popping starts to slow down, this is exactly 3 minutes in my microwave. Makes about nine cups popcorn, with virtually no old maids.

POPCORN for ONE Place 1 to 2 tablespoons popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch bag. Fold over tightly once or twice. Cook on high in the microwave until the popping starts to slow down, in my microwave 2 minutes is too long, 1:50 is perfect. Makes 1-1/2 to 3 cups popcorn, with virtually no old maids.

    WEIGHT WATCHERS ONE-POINT POPCORN SERVINGS
  • 1-1/2 cups popcorn = PointsPlus 1 (use 1 tablespoon popcorn)
  • 2-1/4 cups popcorn = Old Points 1 (use 1-1/2 tablespoons popcorn)
NUTRITION ESTIMATE for No-Oil Micowave Popcorn, Per Cup: 30 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 6g Carb; 1g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 1g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points .5, PointsPlus 1

ALANNA's TIPS The paper grocery bags can be re-used but I would watch for signs that they are giving out. I’ve made up to four batches of microwave popcorn with a single large grocery bag, just two with a small lunch bag. Microwaves do vary in power so please-please-please, the first time you make popcorn in your own microwave, stay close to monitor the timing. Learn what works in your microwave. My microwave has a revolving plate, this might affect the timing. In addition, I did burn one when the large grocery bag unfurled enough to stop it from turning freely in the microwave. Watch for this! My sister swears by a teaspoon of butter for popcorn. I've been adding that small amount to the big family-size bag of popcorn, it does make a difference. More microwave action! This popcorn works really well if you’re hungry for Microwave Caramel Corn! You can even use the same bag!


The Popcorn Shelves at My Favorite Grocery Store


The popcorn section at my favorite grocery store.

This is the popcorn section at my favorite grocery. Do you see how the least expensive popcorn is hidden and almost invisible on the bottom shelf at the right? All the rest? It's packages of microwave popcorn. What ARE we thinking?


Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite way to make something that we've lost touch with how to make it from scratch? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. "Like" Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

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© Copyright 2011 Kitchen Parade





I stopped eating microwave popcorn when the production people were getting sick from the "butter flavor" chemicals.
 
Hmm, you know, sister Adanna, I haven't eaten microwave popcorn in years, I bet I stopped when you told me about the production people getting sick.
 
Alanna, my question is, do the paper bag companies use chemicals in the bag manufacturing process? That is my only concern. Pam
 
Pam - Good question, one I'd not thought of. Ideas, anyone?
 
You know I felt the same way once I learned how easy it is to make your own microwave popcorn, I felt cheated! I couldn't believe that I had bought that microwave popcorn before!

I love making my own. I stopped eating microwave popcorn because I hated that waxy greasy taste you would get afterwards. Now I eat popcorn a lot more cause I can add whatever I want and it just tastes so much better!

I'll never go back to buying microwave popcorn.
Thanks for sharing!
 
I actually JUST urdered a popcorn maker. I am trying this tonight!
 
I LOVE this!!! Popcorn is my favorite food and I'm always scouring the bottoms shelves for the real deal. I love organic white. And a teaspoon of olive oil is great.
 
It's me again. I did a google search to see if we should cook in the brown paper bags and this is what I found. I'm going to buy some cooking bags to try the popcorn. Pam

Here's what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says about this practice:

"Do not use brown paper bags from grocery or other stores for cooking. They are not sanitary, may cause a fire, and can emit toxic fumes. Intense heat may cause a bag to ignite, causing a fire in the oven... . The ink, glue, and recycled materials in paper bags can emit toxic fumes when they are exposed to heat. Instead, use purchased oven cooking bags."
 
We make our popcorn is a glass bowl with a glass lid. I use a large bowl with 1/4 cup kernels. It's delish.
 
I've often read that it's unsafe to cook pies in paper grocery bags or to use the bags for any type of cooking or storage, because they aren't made for that and have chemicals in them. Also, some stores routinely spray their plastic and paper bags with bug spray so they don't get infested while they are stored in the warehouse.

Also, don't fill a big plastic trash bag with popcorn or whatever to take to a family reunion or picnic (like I've heard of some people doing), because those also aren't designed for food storage and will leach chemicals into your food.
 
Hi, do you add the teasponnof butter before cooking?
 
Good clarification, Anonymous, thank you. The butter and seasonings are added AFTER the popcorn is popped.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna